Football

Four things we learned from Liverpool all-star charity match

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Steven Gerrard scored two penalties as his All-Star XI drew with Jamie Carragher's All-Star XI in a charity match at Anfield on Sunday.

Mario Balotelli gave Carragher's side the lead when his crashing shot left Brad Jones hopeless.

Minutes later, Balotelli played an exquisite through ball to find Didier Drogba who calmly went around Jones to double the lead for the Sky Sports pundit's team.

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Academy star Jerome Sinclair returned from his loan spell from Wigan Athletic to play in the game and won Gerrard's side a penalty before half-time when fouled by Martin Kelly. It was Gerrard who stepped up to the plate and sent former team-mate Pepe Reina thebwrong way to give his side hope for the second-half.

The Anfield crowd was as lively as ever throughout the game and they were at their peak when Luis Suarez and Fernando Torres both came on as half-time substitutes for Gerrard's XI.

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Suarez showed his magic in-front of the Kop once again and won his team a penalty when a tiring Carragher dragged the Barcelona man to the floor. Gerrard took the spot-kick once again and slotted into the same corner to share the bragging rights with his former vice-captain.

It was a thoroughly entertaining game that seen legends return to Anfield and there were several things we learned throughout the game.

Mario Balotelli can provide

The charity game was by no means as competitive as a Premier League game.

Challenges were barely made, with little fouls being produced and formation went out of the window at times.

Players such as Carragher and Thierry Henry have retired and although they still show they have ability, there legs weren't quite as in the same condition as they were when winning trophies in their hay-day.

However, there was a host of top names playing who all still compete at the top level.

For Gerrard's XI, John Terry, Glen Johnson, John Arne Riise and Anthony Gerrard all started in the back-four, all of whom are still playing to a very good standard of football.

Balotelli lead the Carragher team's front-line and showed what a handful he can be. 

The Italian was everywhere, winning challenges and playing a number of superb balls throughout his 45 minutes on the pitch.

His goal was taken exceptionally, blasted low and hard that gave Jones no chance. Likewise, his pass to find Didier Drogba was equally impressive and the former Inter Milan man almost grabbed another when producing a decent stop from Jones.

Watching Balotelli this season has been frustrating to say the least. He's netted just four goals in all competitions and his overall performances have been nowhere near good enough.

However, playing against a very capable Gerrard XI, Balotelli shone and was by far the best player on the pitch for the first 45 minutes. Hopefully this gives him confidence and he can revert that form into the top flight.

Jerome Sinclair has a bright future

A lot of hype has been surrounding young Sinclair in recent months.

The first time I really got to watch him in action was a couple of weeks ago when Liverpool U21's met Cehlsea U21's and I was mightily impressed.

Sinclair scored an incredible solo goal from a difficult angle that game and showed that the Merseyside club have a real player on their hands.

The 18-year-old was lively from the first whistle  in the charity match, making direct runs towards goals and playing a number of nice touches.

At times he felt like he had to pass to Henry, however, at such a young age that is understandable in the presence of a legend.

Sinclair was the man to win his side a penalty when smartly turning down Kelly in the touch, dropping his shoulder one way and turning the other. 

It was an encouraging performance facing maybe his stiffest competition to date and the Birmingham-native has a bright future ahead of him.

Lucas' competitive streak could help tour-four finish

It was an exhibition game at Anfield and there wasn't a whole lot of bad blood.

Carragher's pull on Suarez was all good fun and he was not too disheartened when Lee Probert pointed to the penalty spot and Suarez tried to put off Craig Bellamy when the Welshman stepped up to take a free-kick was taken in good humour.

However, Lucas was in no mindset for fun and games and firmly knew that Brendan Rodgers was watching in the crowd.

The Brazilian had been injured over the last few months and since making his return to full-fitness has yet to win his place back in the Liverpool team.

Lucas protected Carragher's defence with authority in the first-half making a lot of challenges and headers and also used the ball wisely.

After the break, the former Gremio man continued that form and showed just how badly he wants to break back into Rodgers' team. Miss-timed tackles on Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez were not thought of by anyone except the defensive-midfielder who shook his head in frustration.

Just eight games remain in the Premier League and Liverpool have a five point deficit to close wit Manchester United if they are to finish in the top-four this season.

The Reds have a tough game against Arsenal next Saturday where they must get at least a point to have any hope of pipping their North West rivals for a Champions League place.

Arsena Wenger's men have been in top form with Oliver Giroud scoring freely as well as the rest of his team-mates.

Rodgers may want added protection to counter the Gunners attack and Lucas has gave his manager a reason to bring him back in.

Suarez and Torres could have been epic

When Suarez was signed for Liverpool for Ajax in January 2011, it was for one reason - to play alongside Fernando Torres.

Roy Hodgson had the vision and then when he left the club, Kenny Dalglish also had the same idea.

The prospect of two of the world's best strikers at the time playing up-front together was mouth-watering to think about and the Reds could have the Premier League's most feared strike-force.

It was not to be as Torres left for Chelsea just £50 million and we all thought it would always be a 'what if?"

The pair got their chance to finally combine in the All-Star game and did not fail to impress.

Clever touches, smart runs and an eye for goal from both of them had the ingredients for an instant success if the initial plan had ever went through.

Gerrard has admitted they were the two best strikers he every played with and finds it difficult to split the pair. He formed an excellent relationship with the both of them and highlighted that chemistry will stay every permanent.

Gerrard played excellent balls to Torres and Suarez and the three-headed attack caused Carragher's XI plenty of danger.

That was the first time the three ever played together - just imagine what it could have been like after a few weeks of training.

Liverpool fans: what did YOU learn from Sunday's charity match? Have your say in the comments below!

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Topics:
Jamie Carragher
Football
Premier League
Fernando Torres
Steven Gerrard
Liverpool

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